Benefits of massage therapy

Benefits of massage therapy

Most people’s concept of a massage brings to mind Zen music, aromatherapy and body oil. However, not all massage is the same. There’s spa or relaxation massage, and then there’s massage therapy. The latter is designed to help manage chronic and temporary pain, increase range of motion or as a form of therapy for an injury.
Massage therapy has a host of other benefits as well. “It’s good for stress reduction, decreasing blood pressure, pain reduction, shoulder pain, for sciatica, TMJ and migraines—even breaking down scar tissue,” says Alicia Montejano, a certified massage therapist at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill. Those are the most common reasons a massage therapist is sought she says.

“It can be also be used to condition muscles when someone is waiting for surgery for the knee or hip, for example, so once they have surgery then massage therapy can facilitate rehab,” explains Montejano, who’s certified in orthopedic massage and myofascial release.

Massage complements other therapies like physical therapy and chiropractic because they all address the muscles. “The muscles are what hold all the joints in place so muscles need to be relaxed to hold adjustments that a chiropractor would make and increase range of motion,” she says.

“Many people think it’s just a luxury, and it’s not,” Montejano adds.

What to expect
Although Montejano says she works with each of her clients to make sure each is comfortable, there may be a bit of discomfort.

“I like to say that muscles are like a person with bad habits so you have to train them,” she says.

Her technique involves warming up the muscles and working with them to “scrub the pain,” which can be caused by trigger points. A trigger point is a painful area of muscle tissue that causes pain in other body points. So, for example, pain in the head may be caused by a trigger point in the neck.  

Montejano describes her approach as “melting through the muscle to get to the pain.” She uses deep tissue massage to warm up the muscle and then goes in deeper—but not too deep. “People say, ‘I like pressure,’ but that’s not my mode because a lot of pressure won’t do anything. Think of Jell-O with a lot of fruit. If I put pressure, I move too much fruit, or trigger points, out of the way. I want to take care of the issues, not move the problem out of the way,” she explains.

Clients are usually concerned about modesty, but Montejano offers up reassurance that therapists are very aware of this and work to make clients feel safe. “We only uncover the area we’re working on and then recover it. Legally, we have to have areas covered,” she says. First and foremost though, Montejano stresses, “It’s all about the person’s comfort. We will work with you.”

If you’re nervous about massage therapy, Montejano suggests dipping your toe in the water by getting a neck massage first. She encourages first-timers, and those who are regulars, to communicate with their therapist.

“The patient needs to control the massage and let the therapist know if something does not feel comfortable. You should have full control over the massage,” she says.

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  1. For years, I refused to get a massage, even though I had many friends trying to convince me to try it. I ended up getting one last year and thought, “Why did I wait so long?” I now go once a month. It’s really helped my recurring headaches.

  2. Just what I like to see! Medical research that gives me even more reason to justify massages. And they definitely do help with migraines.

  3. Great gift idea too! Thanks for the article Nikki!

  4. Cranial massages are awesome and help with headaches of all types.

  5. I’ve been having bi-monthly, then monthly massages for over twelve years now and can’t say enough about the physical and mental benefits. I’ve only had three massage therapists since starting; two moved away and luckily I found another amazing one stick with again. I beleive finding the right one who works with you is essential.

  6. This sounds like something I could definitely use. But, I am curious….will health insurance cover massage therapy if deemed necessary by your physician? If not, what is an average cost per visit?

  7. Nikki Hopewell April 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm · Reply

    Hi, Tina,

    I spoke with Alicia, the massage therapist, and this is what she replied to your question:

    Rates vary immensely. Some examples:

    Massage Envy, MassageLux and other “Massage Clubs”:

    Approx $60 for 50 minutes (they call it an hour). However, you need to join their club agreeing to have a monthly massage in order to keep paying this price.

    Our price at the Wellness Center (for 60 minutes): If a member, you pay $74, non-member pays $89, however when they pay this it is as if they are purchasing a “guest pass” and they are able to use the full Wellness Center on the day of the massage appointment for as long as they wish including steam room and whirlpool, etc.

    I don’t know of any insurance that pays. They used to pay a massage done at a chiropractor’s office, but their insurance is billed as a Physical Therapy session at approximately $140/60 minutes or maybe even more now, because of this many are no longer paying.

    The most important factor is to find the “right” therapist. You need to try a few to find the one that works for you, specially if this is your first massage. How do you know you have the correct one if you don’t have anything to compare to?

    I don’t know of any place that bills for massage or that will fill out any forms to submit. This is totally between the client and their very own insurance. ~Alicia

    Hope this helps!

  8. I just got an at home massage with The Massage Buddha and absolutely loved their whole body focus and “Eastern meets Western” approach for balance of both body and mind. Highly recommend them!

  9. I just got an at home massage with NourishNode and absolutely loved their whole body focus and “Eastern meets Western” approach for balance of both body and mind. Highly recommend them!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.